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Miguel Zenón: Alma Adentro - The Puerto Rican Songbook

Publication: All About Jazz
Author: Dan Bilawsky
Date: August 21, 2011

When so-called “Latin jazz” comes up in conversation, music or musicians connected to Cuba or Brazil are usually the topic of conversation. While it’s true that Afro-Cuban stylings, bossa nova beats and sizzling samba numbers seem to dominate in this umbrella category, they’re only the tip of the iceberg that is the music of Latin America. Thankfully, some important jazz musicians are helping to broaden the rest of the world’s view on what Latin America has to offer. Pianist Danilo Perez has connected the dots between music from his native Panama and jazz, and alto saxophone star Miguel Zenón is doing the same thing for Puerto Rico.

While calling somebody a “star” in jazz might seem like an oxymoron, when considering the lower-than-deserved profile of the genre on the national and international stages, Zenón fits the bill like few others. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 1st, 2011 — 10:39am

Branford Marsalis: "Can We Really Use the Word 'Important' for Something That the Majority of the People Have Never Heard?"

Publication: Seattle Weekly Blogs
Author: Chris Kornelis
Date: August 30, 2011

Earlier today I had a long chat with saxophonist Branford Marsalis, who just released, with the piano player Joey Calderazzo, Songs of Mirth and Melancholy—an album of instrumentals played with a warmth and melody usually the domain of vocalists. But Marsalis was much more interested in discussing general ideas related to jazz and pop music than he was pitching his new record (though he certainly thinks very highly of it).

Many of Marsalis’ comments directed at the jazz community could just as easily be applied to the insular “world inside a world” you can find inside the indie rockosphere, to say nothing of punk, pop, and hip-hop. He’s got a point: If the most important music being made today isn’t reaching an audience, is it really important?

Here’s an excerpt from our chat:

Marsalis: I have a lot of normal friends. ‘Cause it’s important. [New York is] a weird city where actors date actors, lawyers date lawyers, musicians date musicians, it’s real strange that way. You have a bunch of musicians talking about music and they talk about what’s good and what’s not good, and they don’t consider the larger context of it, and the larger context of it is that, you know . . . Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 31st, 2011 — 05:26pm

Linking Jazz to Boleros and Ballads

Publication: New York Times
Author: Ben Ratliff
Date: August 29, 2011

Miguel Zenón
“Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook”
(Marsalis Music)

The alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón is identifiable by his tone, which is floaty and bright and ornate; sometimes he sounds as if he’s playing a ballad even when the tempo races. But he’s also become identifiable by the quality of ideas, his particular kind of intellectual ambition.

Since his first album 10 years ago he’s become something like a perfect student, the perpetually self-challenging kind. Mr. Zenón, born and raised in Puerto Rico and living in New York — and a 2008 MacArthur Foundation award winner — could make an endless stream of contemporary jazz if he wanted to, rhythmically complicated, perfectly new, perfectly cloistered. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 30th, 2011 — 05:14pm

Miguel Zenón ‘Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook’

Publication: Boston Globe
Author: Bill Beuttler
Date: August 29, 2011

Having devoted previous albums to modern jazz interpretations of the jibaro and plena folk-music forms of his native Puerto Rico, the brilliant alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón is now doing the same for the island’s popular music. On “Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook,’’ Zenón’s longstanding quartet - including pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Henry Cole, augmented by a 10-piece wind ensemble - offers boldly virtuosic reworkings of two tunes apiece from five of Puerto Rico’s most beloved songwriters. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 30th, 2011 — 02:25pm

Ellis Marsalis Music Center crowns Musicians' Village

By Bill Capo
Eyewitness News
August 25, 2011

NEW ORLEANS — There was a standing room only crowd, with actress Renee Zellweger in the audience, for the dedication of the new Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, the centerpiece of Habitat for Humanity’s Musicians Village project in the Ninth Ward.

Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis played key roles in developing the Musicians Village, and the center, but as performers, they called this hall acoustically perfect.

“You’re in the middle of the Upper 9th Ward,” said Connick.  “You’ve got the highest level of state-of-the-art technical facility here. it is like all these worlds coming together.”

“You could bring a string quartet in here, and they could play without one shred of amplification, and everybody in here could hear every note in here regardless of the volume,” raved Marsalis.

“You could also bring Dr. John in here with his full band, and people would love every minute of it.”
Read more »

Ellis Marsalis Center for Music has Many 'Fathers'

THE TMES PICAYUNE/ NOLA.com
August 27, 2011
By Keith Spera

Two days before Thursday’s official unveiling of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, I asked Harry Connick Jr., a driving force behind its creation, if he felt like an expectant father.

“Sort of,” Connick joked. “I guess if I lived in a commune, and it was polygamous, and you didn’t know who the father was.”

His point was, it takes a village to raise a Village. The new,multimillion-dollar arts education center in the Musicians’ Village has many fathers.

Among them were Connick’s close friend, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and the duo’s longtime manager, Ann Marie Wilkins.

She, Connick made clear, handled most of the grunt work — the paperwork, the endless meetings, the logistics, the sweet-talking, the arm-twisting.

“There’s people that are way ahead of me in the credit line for this,” Connick said. “I’ve been a big mouthpiece for it, and tried my best to raise money for it. Ann Marie, they should canonize her. She made this happen. We just do what she says.”

New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, under executive director Jim Pate, developed the Musicians’ Village from an idea Marsalis and Connick hatched while driving to Houston soon after Hurricane Katrina to entertain evacuees.

Ellis Marsalis Center for Music opens in Musicians' Village

Thursday, August 25, 2011
By Keith Spera
The Times-Picayune

On Wednesday afternoon, Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis kicked the proverbial tires at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, the new, multimillion-dollar arts, educational and community center in the upper 9th Ward’s Musicians’ Village.
Marsalis Center for Music
They jokingly checked under classroom desks for gum. They strode the dance studio’s wood floor. They demonstrated the 1.5-millisecond echo in the 150-capacity, acoustically engineered performance hall.

Had such a facility existed when he was a boy, Connick marveled, “I would have been here every day.”

The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, named for Branford’s father, the storied jazz pianist and educator, officially opens today with a private celebration.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and Mayor Mitch Landrieu are expected to speak. Connick, the senior Marsalis, and Branford and several of his siblings are slated to perform.
Read more »

Branford Marsalis/Joey Calderazzo: Songs of Mirth and Melancholy

Publication: Financial Times

Author: Mike Hobart
Date: August 13, 2011

Haunting sax entwines with rhapsodic piano in this largely original repertoire

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis has an equally full-bodied tone on this lovely studio recording with pianist Joey Calderazzo, but here the emphasis is more on melodic purity and the cadences of classical romance than urban grit.

Submitted by Courtney on August 15th, 2011 — 11:08am

Review: Saxophonist Branford Marsalis finds a finger-snapping groove with the Philadelphians

Publication: The Saratogian
Author: Judith White
Date: August 11, 2011

A nearly full moon smiled down on a large, enthusiastic Wednesday night audience for the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Up front was the amazing saxophonist Branford Marsalis, debuting his classical music talents here with the Philadelphians, and conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, in a first-time SPAC performance.

I hope you were there: this was a truly original performance, new and different for this venue, and filled with energy and life. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 11th, 2011 — 05:32pm

Branford Marsalis and the Philadelphia Orchestra @ SPAC 8/10/11

Publication: TimesUnion.com
Author: Joseph Dalton
Date: August 11, 2011

SARATOGA SPRINGS -  Whose presence — the soloist, the conductor or certain composers — most enlivened Wednesday’s concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra is hard to pinpoint.  But it was nearly impossible to walk out of the amphitheater at the end of the evening without a lively beat or a good tune in your pocket.

The headliner was saxophonist Branford Marsalis.  Better known for his roots in jazz, he performed beautifully in two brief and colorful concertos. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on August 11th, 2011 — 05:48pm